Last year, VCT participated in a survey of multi-institution consortia and systems in the U.S. focused on the delivery of distance learning. Conducted by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technology and Wiley Education Services, this study resulted in the report Together We Can Accomplish More: A Survey of Multi-Institution Consortia and System Leaders, published in Oct. 2018.
The findings in this report – coupled with VCT entering its third decade serving community colleges across Texas – suggest that this is an opportune time to revisit and potentially re-envision the future of VCT. I am thrilled to be coming on board as Executive Director of VCT at this exciting time to help direct a strategic planning process and lead us into the next decade of service.
Back to the report: based on a survey of 32 respondents representing consortia, including VCT, and systems of all types from the United States and Canada, the study found that:
- although some organizations have closed, “many others have strengthened over time or transitioned into a new, more relevant version that better fits member needs.”
- the value propositions for these organizations include increasing outcomes and efficiencies across institutions as well as jointly exploring new innovations.
- while a wide range of services are offered, most focus on soft skills, and implementing OER is a popular new service for many.
- many of the organizations surveyed are maturing as well as seeking more diverse revenue streams.
The report concludes:
"This survey shows that more have opened than have closed and several have repurposed themselves to meet changing needs. Meanwhile – on a whole – they are expanding their services and increasing their budgets; most are prospering." (pp. 3-5)
I am grateful for this important survey and report, as they provide an excellent springboard from which to launch the development of our strategic plan. Our course sharing platform remains robust and is a crucial service for students across the state needing access to college courses. We also lead a dynamic and oft-utilized statewide Quality Matters Consortium; we provide member schools, at no cost to them, membership in the State Authorization Network; and we have implemented new services such as video capture and captioning. Thus, we are well-poised to build on these services and re-imagine how we can leverage our consortial strength to best serve the needs of 21st century students across Texas.
We are looking forward to soliciting feedback in the next few months from our stakeholders, including VCT campus coordinators, key staff at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Association of Community Colleges and its eLearning Committee, and others. So stay tuned!
Judith Sebesta, Ph.D.
Virtual College of Texas